CULTURE

Kalamata Dance Festival fights on

«It goes without saying that this year, considering all the difficulties and agony, the fact that this press conference is taking place at all is both moving and a source of joy.? These were the welcoming remarks made by artistic director Vicky Maragopoulou during a recent media event organized for the unveiling of the program for the upcoming 18th International Kalamata Dance Festival.

In this fragile climate, a result of the current insecurity, and in the absence of the culture minister, who would normally put in an appearance for the announcement of the festival?s program, Maragopoulou — the event?s driving force — announced that this year performances will run from July 12 to 19, featuring noteworthy local and international artists.

?The festival was put together through a lot of effort, in highly adverse conditions,? noted Maragopoulou, who added: ?Our principal effort was not to allow for the loss of any of our beliefs. We wanted the festival to be up to speed, not in terms of being in vogue, but in terms of being contemporary and complete as a means of immersion and communication into the art of dance.?

One of the principal elements defining this year?s event is the reinforced presence of the Greek dance scene through the scheduled appearances of four ensembles (Pelma/Lia Haraki, Finger Six/Sofia Mavragani, Yelp/Mariela Nestora, Aerites/Patricia Apergi). Another feature of this year?s festival is the continuation of educational events, including a choreography workshop on American choreographer Yvonne Rainer?s ?Trio A,? led by Pat Catterson.

A new production by renowned French choreographer Philippe Decoufle will serve as the festival?s curtain raiser, with two performances taking place at the amphitheater of the Kalamata Fortress on July 12 and 13. Titled ?Panorama,? the performance traces some of the highlights of Decoufle?s 30-year career, such as his creatures that spring up or fly onto the stage, and is defined by the choreographer?s passion for a kind of old-school exploration of the moving image, the early days of cinema, as well as the circus with all its acrobats and clowns.

Making his Greek debut is Pierre Rigal (Compagnie Derniere Minute), a rising star of the French avant-garde dance scene, who is scheduled to present a timely work, ?Press,? on July 14 and 15. The production follows a man under considerable pressure, both figuratively and literally, who finds himself moving in a gradually shrinking space.

Another eagerly expected event is the festival?s third foreign troupe, South Africa?s Gregory Maqoma and the Vuyani Dance Theater (July 15 and 16). A familiar Kalamata Dance Festival face, Maqoma returns with a new production, ?Exit/Exist,? which features a dancer, six musicians and an ancestor?s spirit. Combining a Western education with his African heritage, Maqoma has created a work on memory and history which invites audiences to take a minute to reflect, observe the behavior of our ancestors in order to gain strength, and gaze upon the future in a different light.

For more on the event, go to www.kalamatadancefestival.gr.